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Thread: Our Future Combat Systems?

  1. #21
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Default Tactical Agility:Linking the Cognitive and Physical using Networked Battle Command

    Like the article on robotics, I tend to write about the things that I'm working on at the time - both to better understand them, and also to inform the greater community - in this case (early 2005) I wrote about about networked battle command - and how the FCS concept of battle command (BCOTM) was looking in comparison to existing digital battle command - it was published later in 2005. Also like the article on robots, some of what I wrote then has evolved based on new experiences and on new reflections earned through new PME, and just getting some distance. Its what the Army was paying me think about at the time. I think the basis of the article though - about the differences between the analytical and recognitional decision making, how staffs work or might work and about capabilities and limitations of technology to benefit or detract from effectiveness are still pretty sound. What I did not understand then, which a deployment to OIF helped inject (along with some time to consider it afterwards) was how large a role fog, friction and chance play in war.

    I think the article will still help others get their arms around some of the ways technology might help us adapt and make decisions faster - while still pointing out that the key is really in the leader's ability to not only recognize changes, but to understand what it means. This link will take you to the Armor Magazine version which has graphics as well as some stock photos the magazine staff inserted. Since you must have AKO authorization to get in, I've also included a word copy of the text.

    Best, Rob
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    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 12-08-2007 at 06:51 PM.

  2. #22
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    4) Why do any LAVís still have wheels?
    I seem to remember reading that there are other issues with hovercraft--like sand in fans--that make them potential hangar queens. Plus I think I've read about size issues--Big works fine, small not so well when talking about air cushion vehicles--the cushion generation/propulsion equipment takes up a fair amount of space.
    7) Why would anybody compare the volatile insecure Internet with highly available secure communications?

    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    WM got it. There seems to be a big push in DHS and DOD to push communications to the Internet or that type of infrastructure. One of the problems is that there is no embedded security in Internet protocols and as a system it requires consistency to be functional (drop a segment and wait minutes or hours to have it return) and the combat/emergency environment is anything but consistent.
    Thanks for the prop.
    "Hey, we've got SSL, VPN tunneling, and TACLANEs to secure the links! What security problem could there possibly be with IP-based comms?" he says sarcastically. Ther's also a big push in the voice, data and video comms user world on need for QoS (quality of service) and ad hoc networking--lots of talk but I don't see any great solutions yet. Sorry for the techno dump, but I've been watching the switch from value-added network (VAN) providers with dedicated point-to-point comms for data transactions to internet based transport for a while now and am still not impressed. Add to that the freq spectrum auctions of recent years that have reduced available frequency for DoD use and there's a lot of room to be very cautious.

  3. #23
    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    The "new military technology will bankrupt us!" is old news. Very similar things have been said about rifle technology with the introduction of smokeless powder repeating rifles, modern artillery, aircraft, trucks, tanks, modern fighting ships, etc....

    On caseless ammunition:

    Truly caseless ammunition just has too many downsides to be practical, in the forseeable future. There are problems with durability, dimensional stability, fire resistence, environmental effects resistence, and once you solve all those, you need to make an action and chamber that will perfectly seal. Which would probably be hard to make function reliably, due to the precision involved.

    There is plastic-cased ammunition, that saves you weight, and steel-cased, which saves money to produce, but in the end, brass is worth the extra weight penalty, in that it flows under heat and pressure to ensure a positive seal in the chamber, aiding accuracy and still retaining good extraction properties.

    Myself, I'm waiting for my "phased-array plasma rifle in the 40 megawatt range".

  4. #24
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    A $200B program in a time when we are $10T in debt is going to be looked at very closely.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

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  5. #25
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question Internet

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    I seem to remember reading that there are other issues with hovercraft--like sand in fans--that make them potential hangar queens. Plus I think I've read about size issues--Big works fine, small not so well when talking about air cushion vehicles--the cushion generation/propulsion equipment takes up a fair amount of space.
    7) Why would anybody compare the volatile insecure Internet with highly available secure communications?



    Thanks for the prop.
    "Hey, we've got SSL, VPN tunneling, and TACLANEs to secure the links! What security problem could there possibly be with IP-based comms?" he says sarcastically. Ther's also a big push in the voice, data and video comms user world on need for QoS (quality of service) and ad hoc networking--lots of talk but I don't see any great solutions yet. Sorry for the techno dump, but I've been watching the switch from value-added network (VAN) providers with dedicated point-to-point comms for data transactions to internet based transport for a while now and am still not impressed. Add to that the freq spectrum auctions of recent years that have reduced available frequency for DoD use and there's a lot of room to be very cautious.
    This is something I have discussed a lot with anyone I could to get a feel for it.
    Understanding that Existing sec networks are there if we look into the future with integration worldwide what probable solutions do you see besides somehow working within the internet infrastructure to develop tie-ins?

    I mean it's always harder to find someone in a warehouse than in a cubicle.
    I think the info warriors would tell you how true that can be.

  6. #26
    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    I've been preaching a few things I call the truths.

    1) The current security paradigm will not last longer than the first big failure.
    2) The current computing paradigm is changing to utility computing.

    In general computing will have to follow the same path as electricity, plumbing, and automobiles. Information Technology can not last as a silo within organizations much longer. Bruce Schnier this month has an article about it, but it's been discussed for a long time. Information technology won't go away it will just become the walls and furniture. Point of need virtualization, roaming profiles, high capability portable devices, and more are making that vision a reality. Security must be built in (or as Dr. Eugene Spafford says baked in like flour in a cake not applied like icing). Utility computing as a paradigm will make that happen. There will be a time when the soldier on the battlefield will have a high volume/bandwidth connection and able to interact at a level unthought of. the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program shows that hyper networked (fully meshed) can be built fairly cheap.
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  7. #27
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Always seemed to me the IT folks would follow

    the Signal corps pattern; in WW I, they manned all the radios due to then high tech demands -- and got some really smart people due to that factor. As the systems got more user friendly, the Signal corps mission effectively transmuted during WW II, they got less brainy folks and as the systems got automated and miniaturized, they eventually became not needed for battlefield comm.

    That's a gross over simplification but I always figured the 'puters would follow the same pattern. Long way of a non-computer savvy country boy saying I'm absolutely sure you're right...

    Now, as an aside, if we can just get rid of LTs as FOs, a process and system that has essentially followed the same pattern (but that final solution is stoutly resisted by the FA)...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Penta View Post
    It's always struck me....Why do we never have simple "Technology Maturation" projects?
    You do, it just becomes less robust as the sticker price goes up. It's one thing to bang away at code through a test suite, dump manure into rifle or crash test a Hummer, it's another to fire live shots at an airborne F-22 or blow up a Stryker. At some point your testing focus becomes chiefly unitary over cheaply produced components rather holistic over the final system.

    "Because that's DARPA's job", I'm going to hear, I suppose.

    I always thought DARPA's job was the really far out research - then, once you have something that may actually have applications, it transitions to the services.
    As far as I know, DARPA's job isn't even proof of concept, but more along the lines of basic research done in universities in the new drug discovery chain.
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  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    the Signal corps pattern; in WW I, they manned all the radios due to then high tech demands -- and got some really smart people due to that factor. As the systems got more user friendly, the Signal corps mission effectively transmuted during WW II, they got less brainy folks and as the systems got automated and miniaturized, they eventually became not needed for battlefield comm.

    That's a gross over simplification but I always figured the 'puters would follow the same pattern. Long way of a non-computer savvy country boy saying I'm absolutely sure you're right...
    Well, you're not that far afield, but the reasons why things didn't pan out that way is threefold:

    1) IT is full of crooks who invariably claim more knowledge in the brochure than they actually possess.
    2) The component reusability and reconfigurability in the hardware realm has not, despite four decades of promises, been replicated to any significant degree in at the software level. This mostly has to do with the fact that IT folks are lazy bums who enjoy automated tools but not putting in the work to implement them.
    3) What reusability and reconfigurability exists remains extremely low level compared to the functional spec and still requires almost entirely human hands on know how to use in repairs (bug fixes) or modification (extensibility).

    I'm pretty sure this fully explains why you a guy can still rake in $25+/hr knowing little more than how to write loops, if/then blocks and (these days) class declarations. I seriously recommend reading Yourdon's Decline and Fall of the American Programmer. The only thing that's changed much since his lit review came out are new interesting algorithms that then populate and breed in the developer space to the point where today's systems are just as if not more incomprehensibly expensive to maintain and improve.
    Last edited by Presley Cannady; 01-30-2008 at 03:50 AM.
    PH Cannady
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  10. #30
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Actually, I'm not at all afield.

    Quote Originally Posted by Presley Cannady View Post
    Well, you're not that far afield, but the reasons why things didn't pan out that way is threefold:...
    I was talking about end users. Given the proliferation of laptops and related devices to the Joe Tentpeg level, we're already there. The esoterics of design and software may still be somewhat problematical at echelons above reality but the end user phenomenon has already panned out...

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    I was talking about end users. Given the proliferation of laptops and related devices to the Joe Tentpeg level, we're already there. The esoterics of design and software may still be somewhat problematical at echelons above reality but the end user phenomenon has already panned out...
    My mistake. Let's keep this between ourselves.
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  12. #32
    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Hi Presley,

    As far as I know, DARPA's job isn't even proof of concept, but more along the lines of basic research done in universities in the new drug discovery chain.
    Just a note on DARPA. While proof of concept is usually something we associate with something after its been turned over to a uniformed project manager, or beyond - DARPA does do allot of field testing. In fact my experience with them has been they test their stuff harder then anybody else. I think part of this has to do with the way they view things - the DARPA crews I've worked with have been all about taking it out and breaking it - then figuring out why it broke and engineering it so it does better next time.

    On the other hand, by the time private sector brings in the uniformed side, its been my experience that there is risk aversion. The test conditions are generally set, and there is allot of rehearsal. DARPA does not do allot of scripting, and if it breaks in front of the audience, so be it.

    One thing I did learn while working that job was that there are different pots of money - I'll probably get this wrong, but basically there is a pot for ideas that have no identified concrete needs - but might fit identified concepts, there is a pot for identified needs but no clear solution, then there are two for stuff that is at stages further along in development. I probably screwed that up.

    DARPA is an interesting organization that has provided us some real headway in allot of areas. Much of the what they do gets folded back into other projects, and benefits the end user. I don't mean to make this a DARPA public service message, but I was impressed by the guys in the way they went to the field, and where they wanted to go - the guys I worked with wanted to know where some of the most challenging conditions were - and they enjoyed being out there.

    Best, Rob

  13. #33
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Hi Presley,



    Just a note on DARPA. While proof of concept is usually something we associate with something after its been turned over to a uniformed project manager, or beyond - DARPA does do allot of field testing. In fact my experience with them has been they test their stuff harder then anybody else. I think part of this has to do with the way they view things - the DARPA crews I've worked with have been all about taking it out and breaking it - then figuring out why it broke and engineering it so it does better next time.

    On the other hand, by the time private sector brings in the uniformed side, its been my experience that there is risk aversion. The test conditions are generally set, and there is allot of rehearsal. DARPA does not do allot of scripting, and if it breaks in front of the audience, so be it.

    One thing I did learn while working that job was that there are different pots of money - I'll probably get this wrong, but basically there is a pot for ideas that have no identified concrete needs - but might fit identified concepts, there is a pot for identified needs but no clear solution, then there are two for stuff that is at stages further along in development. I probably screwed that up.

    DARPA is an interesting organization that has provided us some real headway in allot of areas. Much of the what they do gets folded back into other projects, and benefits the end user. I don't mean to make this a DARPA public service message, but I was impressed by the guys in the way they went to the field, and where they wanted to go - the guys I worked with wanted to know where some of the most challenging conditions were - and they enjoyed being out there.

    Best, Rob
    To second Rob, I sharee offices with the science guys and DARPA has been here repeatedly over the past 8 years. Their projects are indeed wide ranging and they bring a key ingredient--money--to the table when it comes to making things happen.

    Best

    Tom

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